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“Agriculture Extension Services Should Be Prioritized”

Social justice advocacy group, ActionAid Zimbabwe (AAZ) has called on the Government to ensure strategies that agriculture extension services are provided with adequate resources for the country to be food secure in the wake of climate change induced droughts.

In a statement to mark the Public Service day, AAZ said the contribution of public service in development processes should be sustained by recognising work of public servants.

“AAZ calls upon the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) to ensure its policies, resources and priorities are being channeled towards extension services support for the country to be food secure in the face of climate change and an economic crisis.

“As we observe the Public Service Day against a background of droughts, cyclones, and floods in Zimbabwe, we are reminded that agriculture extension is a critical public service that provides support services to farmers and helps the country meet the United Nations SDG Goal 2 of Zero Hunger by 2030.

“The Public Service Day recognizes that democracy and successful governance are built on the foundation of a competent civil service, hence the value and contribution of public service in the development process should be upheld by recognising the work of public servants and encouraging women and young people to pursue careers in the public sector,” AAZ said

The social justice advocacy group urged the Government to invest in the development of workers in the agriculture sector.

“For Zimbabwe to deal with a looming food crisis, addressing the issue of decent working conditions for public sector workers and investing in continuous professional development for agriculture sector workers should be prioritised by the Government.

“A motivated agriculture extension worker will contribute to quality service delivery to smallholder farmers (SHFs), the bulk of whom are women and youth who are vulnerable to economic and climate shocks and have limited capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

“As we take stock of the GoZ capacity to provide public services, AAZ has noted low wages and poor working conditions in the public sector negatively demoralising public workers affecting their provision of quality gender-responsive public services (GRPS). The low wages affect the ability and motivation of public sector workers to provide decent living standards for their families,” said the group

Agriculture extension workers experience limited operational resources such as transport to reach out to farmers, lack of appropriate technology and in-service training for agriculture practices such as agroecology which are alternatives to addressing food insecurity because of climate change.

AAZ implored the Government to improve budget allocations for the agriculture sector and continuously review the remuneration of civil servants responding to macroeconomic fundamentals and decentralise budgetary utilisation to provincial structures for the motorization and equipping of extension officers to adopt e-extension.

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